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Myrtle Rust Establishes In Gisborne

Press Release – Gisborne District Council

Myrtle Rust has arrived in Gisborne City, with the recent discovery of the disease on ramarama hedges at two properties in Kaiti. The trees are not smothered by the disease, but it is present, said Dr Murry Cave, principal scientist at Council. …

Myrtle Rust has arrived in Gisborne City, with the recent discovery of the disease on ramarama hedges at two properties in Kaiti.

“The trees are not smothered by the disease, but it is present,” said Dr Murry Cave, principal scientist at Council.

“Ever since myrtle rust was detected in New Zealand in 2017, we have been monitoring and responding to public queries.

“The disease now appears to be widespread in Tairāwhiti, which is very disappointing, with wild plants infected on the East Cape. We will investigate if there is any present in the Motu SR.”

Dr Cave said it was inevitable that the disease would reach Tairāwhiti, as it was believed microscopic spores had blown over from Australia or New Caledonia and it had spread rapidly across the North Island and parts of the South Island.

The disease affects familiar and much loved New Zealand plants in the myrtle family, such as pohutukawa, manuka and ramarama, as well as the feijoa.

Because myrtle rust is now widespread, since July 2019 the emphasis has shifted from eradication to understanding and controlling the disease.

“Members of the public who believe they have spotted an infestation can contact the local DoC office or Council,” Dr Cave said

“Once established on a host tree or shrub, it destroys new growth and soft tissues, eventually killing the plant. So it’s not to be dismissed lightly.”

Home gardeners are advised not to remove plants, as that will spread spores. They can treat affected plants with commercially available products, although they will need long-term treatment.

“The disease poses a significant threat to wild and some agricultural species,” Dr Cave said.

Myrtle Rust Reporter website: https://inaturalist.nz/projects/myrtle-rust-reporter

More information at https://myrtlerust.org.nz/

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